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Martin v. Bryce

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

January 10, 2018

JASON BRYAN MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
LOGAN BRYCE,[1] Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Jason Martin filed a Complaint alleging former Deputy United States Marshal Logan Bryce utilized excessive force during the course of Mr. Martin's arrest on February 29, 2016. The Complaint fails to state a federal claim upon which relief may be granted and should be dismissed.

         I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Parties

         Mr. Martin is a state prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and without counsel. He is incarcerated at Crossroads Correctional Center. The sole Defendant is former Deputy United States Marshal Logan Byrce. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 4.)

         B. Allegations

         Mr. Martin was convicted of federal charges in 2013. (United States v. Martin, Criminal Action No. 4:12cr61-GF-BMM.)[2] His supervised release was revoked on August 31, 2015 and he was sentenced to seven months custody followed by 29 months supervised released. One of the supervised conditions of that release was that Mr. Martin was required to reside in a Residential Reentry Center under contract to the United States Bureau of Prisons for 180 days. (Id. at Doc. 45-Petition for Warrant for Offender Under Supervision.)

         On February 29, 2016, Mr. Martin was removed from the Great Falls Transition Center for “aggressive actions as a risk to staff and other residents.” (Id. at 2.) Accordingly, the United States Probation Office filed a petition for a warrant for an offender under supervision and the undersigned signed an arrest warrant for Mr. Martin. (U.S. v. Martin, 4:12cr61-GF-BMM, Docs. 45, 46.)

         On February 29, 2016, United States Marshal Logan Bryce and United States Probation Officer Kevin Heffernan went to the Great Falls Transition Center to arrest Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin testified under oath at the final revocation hearing on March 9, 2016 that when a staff member at the transition center called him over to talk to him he knew the Marshals were there, panicked and ran downstairs to a bathroom. When he walked out of the bathroom, he was arrested by Marshal Bryce. When the officers were escorting Mr. Martin outside, Mr. Martin admits that he jerked away from Marshal Bryce “because I was upset.” (U.S. v. Martin, 4:12cr61-GF-BMM, Doc. 63 at 36, 63.)

         In his Complaint, Mr. Martin alleges he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back while being escorted by Marshal Bryce. As they approached the transport vehicle, Mr. Martin pulled his right arm from what he alleges was “Defendant Brice's excessive grib [sic].” He contends that Marshal Bryce was holding him with greater force than necessary. Mr. Martin alleges that Marshal Bryce “became instantly enraged and immediately reached up and placed both of his hands on Plaintiff Martin's neck and began to choke him.” After about three seconds, Mr. Martin noticed that Marshal Bryce would not let go or loosen his hold. Mr. Martin began to panic because he could not breathe and his hands were cuffed behind his back and he began to squirm violently attempting to free himself. Because he was still unable to breathe, he attempted to move his head back and forth in an attempt to break loose of Marshal Bryce's choke. This made Marshal Bryce even more angry and he squeezed harder for a few more seconds. Mr. Martin alleges the total choke time was approximately 15 seconds.

         II. INITIAL SCREENING

         Mr. Martin is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis so the Court must review his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. Sections 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or by a prisoner against a governmental defendant before it is served if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A case is malicious if it was filed with the intention or desire to harm another.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if a plaintiff fails to allege the “grounds” of his “entitlement to relief.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation omitted).

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a complaint “that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This rule requires a complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to ...


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